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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Lithium Or Why We Need A New Breed Of TV Star

I have a feeling this is going to wander into aimless rant territory.
[end warning]

I'm all for escapism in my TV programs. I have moments where I enjoy watching these crazy-assed magazine shows where Rich People (tm) blow shit-tons of money on diamond-flavoured Popsicles or go ballistic when their cars get touched by homeless people.

Sure, every once and a while, it's funny to watch Rich People act like crazy-assed lunatics.

But by and large, I'm getting fed up with it.

And I think Charlie Sheen is officially the straw that broke the camel's back there.

Now, yes, we all know about that magic 'you're rich, you're invincible' clause -- it's pretty obvious that those who regularly clear seven figures a year have eked out a pretty sweet deal on a load of fronts.

Yet there are people out there, on the streets, right now being arrested for carrying only a fraction of the drugs that Mr. Sheen has openly admitted to doing. I saw an interview last night (or the night before) where he was talking about smoking crack -- a big fat rock of crack. The papers openly quote him as going on cocaine-fueled benders, hiring prostitutes and even assault.

Even worse, ABC's interview with him just lead them to their highest ratings in 2 years.

Now, to be fair, it's not like this is anything new. I'm sure most of us can remember Jerry Springer or Britney's rampage or Lindsay Lohan's meltdown.

But somehow it seems like someone out there has figured out that 'crazy' is the new 'sex'. And, consequently, the word 'celebrity' pretty much equals 'bat-shit insane'.

As if to prove my point, The Celebrity Apprentice went out and got Gary Busey onto their show this season. Gary frickin' Busey, the poster-boy for 'Guano-induced insanity'. And, because, somehow that wasn't enough, they threw La Toya Jackson, Meatloaf and Lil' Jon into the room as well.

Why? I dunno. I think they were hoping they'd breed or something.

There was this brilliant clip that once existed on the web, a clip of the comedian Louis CK making the brilliant point that "We're feeding our kids insanity, and then wondering why they're insane". Apparently that clip no longer exists (or is not available in my geographic location) so I can't share it here.

But it does allow me to segue into 'Louie', one of the best shows I saw all last year, and the realization it bestowed upon me:

We need more 'real'/'honest' middle-class working men and women on TV. Something to balance out the chaos... or at least give us the option to see something else. Shows like 'Louie'... or even 'The Middle' (a hugely underrated show, IMHO). I mean, other than those two, what else is there?

We need good, solid folks. Relate-able people who're ekeing out their existence, struggling with the world around them. Maybe, just maybe, living and working in Wisconsin.

As teachers.

I dunno... maybe all of this is stemming from my new fatherhood -- being uber-sensitive to things that I once just shrugged away.

But I'm not sure that that's the case. There's real craziness going on out there around us, stuff that needs our attention -- needs to be recognized for what it is. More and more, I'm worrying about the insanity that's permeating our TV shows is, very slowly, making what we see around us seem a lot more 'normal'.

Acceptable even.

Jesus... I'm starting to sound like... well, everyone who's ever railed against TV ever.


The only answer I have right now is that we all raise our game. Be better than crazy. As writers, write stories and characters with more integrity, that are more funny, more intriguing.

As viewers, demand better than crazy.

The problem is that Crazy is just so damned easy. Take Gary Busey off his meds for a weekend, throw in a camera and there's two seasons of a new reality series.

How do you compete with that?

I dunno.

At least, for the moment.

[End Rant]


PS: Get off my lawn you stupid kids! Also: Music sucks these days, it was way better when I was an embryo. Etc.

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